After watching the film “The Horde” I came to the conclusion that the authors have laid an emphasis on barbarism, stupidity and primitivism of the conquerors and tried to present the Tatars as brutal monsters killing the Russians without any reason just for fun. All the Tatars are shown to be the same – there’s no normal human being among them. Yet even a wolf loves its wolfling. Despite this fact the Tatars love nobody and nothing.
At the same time all the Russians are shown to be very spiritual, they’re almost holy men praying all the time. Their civilization is a sheer good. It indicates to us that the film has failed as a piece of art. Yet it fits a propaganda film with an aim to uplift the Russian patriotic spirit quite good.
I remember watching a lot of Stalin-era films about the Great Patriotic War in my childhood. The Germans were always presented as rude and stupid boneheads always playing the harmonica and chewing speck from tin cans. Compared with them a clever and quick-witted russian soldier attacked a german station and killed some dozens of these boneheads. The boys sitting a movie hall were screaming with delight.
In the 80s one could see a new film “Seventeen Moments of Spring” with an intelligent and charming Gestapo agent Müller and people started to understand that the Germans were not so stupid if they reached Stalingrad. Furthermore, some grandchildren of those fighting against fascism became russian fascists (white power skinheads) and imitated the Germans of that age.
In other words, I want to mention that the russian men of art along with the mass of philistines are guided by primitive stereotypes in their perceptions of the Golden Horde today.
Certainly, it’s russian truth about the Horde, they understand it in this way and we can’t make them think different. We just have to introduce our tartarian truth about the Horde. Let Tatarstan produce its own film titled “Seventeen Moments of the Horde” where one will see images of wise and charming tatars like Müller which will be imitated even by russian boys. That would be our response to Chamberlain!
What was the basis of the Horde’s force? How could they have conquered half of the world if they were so stupid? Now it’s time to dispel myths about nomad nations as ignorant barbarians which conquered everything like locusts due to their multiplicity and cruelty.
Let’s begin with the fact that the beginning of all the civilizations is located in Sumer. But the Sumerian language is half Turkic and it’s well-known that the Sumers consisted of two nationalities and one of them came to Mesopotamia from the north-east, i.e. from the Kazakh steppes. Let’s have a look at the Egyptian pharaohs: all of them had mongoloid traits. Let’s have a look at the Phoenicians (supposedly the Semites) who were the first to invent a phonetic orthography. The Egyptians called them Asians and the Phoenicians on the Egyptians bar-relieves looked more mongoloid than the Mongols themselves. So, the beginning of everything was somewhere in Asia. The Asians have only transferred their skills to the Semites, the Africans and the Aryans.
The recent research showed that the proto-turkics were not just only a nomadic nation. Forest steppes of the Southern Urals, northern and central Kazakhstan were their original area. The climate in the 5th millennium BC was not so arid as it’s now in these regions. At that time the Turks were practicing agriculture, animal husbandry and also metallurgy and smithcraft at the fortress towns made of wood and loam.
Considering the fact that modern Turks can be anthropologically classified both as Caucasians and Mongoloids it’s possible that they’re not genetically related to one ancestor and that their community emerged due to common sophisticated Turkic language, culture and unified state.
The proof that one time the Turks were a sedentary nation can be derived from the fact that all the main terms from agriculture, the names of crops, tools and metals, the word “fortress town” (kala), the names of many trees are purely of the turkic origin. The Turks were the first to domesticate the horse, the first to smelt copper, cast iron, bronze, iron and the first to produce Bulat steel. In this regard it seems to me that self-designation of the Kazakhs “cossack” means “mine digger” in Turkic, because there is a verb “cosmack” (to dig) in Turkic, from here derives the word “cossack” or “digging something”. For example, the word “nail” in Turkic is also “cossack” in some dialects. From here comes and the name of the kazakh city “Jezkazgan” which means “the mine where copper ore is digged”. The Turks created runic phonetic orthography before the Phoenicians, then they created the Uyghur alphabet which they gifted to the Mongols during the Age of Genghis Khan.
They have accomplished all these deeds due to horse domestication. With the horse they started to communicate and exchange knowledge on vast land area with both their tribesmen and foreign tribes. It gave them an enormous head start in development.
Why have Homo Sapiens won after arriving to Europe and living side by side with Neanderthals and why have Neanderthals become extinct? Because all the Homo Sapiens had communication with each other and exchanged information and Neanderthals lived in closed communities and didn’t communicate with each other in European region. So, if we want to survive, we need to communicate more and to exchange the best practices with each other.
Then the climate in their area became arid, battle grass in the region populated by the Turks was in short supply and they started to wander at higher scale in pursuit of better grass. Later some nations entirely shifted to a purely nomadic life, especially in summer. Yet they have and permanent winter stations.
So, the beginning of the whole civilization can be found in northern Asia.
If to mention the theory of passionarity supposedly connected with solar variation it doesn’t seems to me convincing. Related tribes just got tired of mutual hostility and wars for territories with each other. So they decided to unite behind a strong leader and direct this destructive energy outside at other nations. It was quite normal in the Middle Ages. Every community with enough energy did it. In addiction to severe discipline the nomads also had the system of military democracy. Stratification and tribal hierarchy were of no account any longer. The man was gauged only by criteria of his military or administrative skills. There was a great social elevator for everyone in this society. One could also mention and justice. Everybody had personal integrity, everybody felt being a creator of history, everybody lived in the unity of thought, word and action. It was the spirit of equal opportunity and feeling a creator of your own destiny and your nation’s destiny that made people and nations bearers of passionarity. This spirit penetrates the turkic epitaphs of the age of the Göktürks. In my opinion, it was the real factor that made these nomads invincible.
As a matter of fact all the old empires conquered by them were riddled with stratification, injustice, deficiency of prospects for a common man, their armies consisted of mercenaries and upper classes were corrupted by idleness and uncontrolled power.
In fact the Arabs also had the same rise during Mohammed’s life and every arab had personal integrity. Mohammed believed that words and deeds should be never at variance. The fact is that Mohammed’s main rivals in the struggle for souls were pre-Islamic poets called “kahin” (a sort of visionaries). He has told about them: “Do you not see that they wander about bewildered in every valleys? And they say that which they do not do” (The Quran: 26 225, 226).
Passionarity of the Ancient Greeks in the initial period of their expansion is also explained by the idea of equality and justice. Everything depended on the person. It was impossible to become the head of city-state illicitly or via a rich daddy. Only the man who won the Olympic Games in a fair contest in front of all the people could become the head of state.
The nomads were the first to come up with military know-how of the next character. It was embodied in the Tatar proverb: “Sil kul tury, ung kul ury, urta kul uk ata” (“The left wing fights with enemy by sabers, the right wing encircles the enemy from backside and the center shoots with bows at the enemy”). This strategy became possible due to great mobility of the Turkic cavalry and great fields which didn’t exist in Europe. Even in the 13th century the Teutonic Knights used to practice a frontal attack called “Cuneus (or pig)” and it was the most advanced achievement of European military mind.
Let’s imagine equipment of a typical nomad. Nomad’s short bows had shooting range more than 275 m. At the same the european bow’s shooting range was no longer than 100 m. Every nomad had 60 arrows of two types: light and long range arrows and arrows with heavy arrowheads for close combat. The rider was also equipped with a saber, a hatchet, a dagger attached to his arm and a shield. A waterproof saddle bag filled with clean clothes, fish hooks, fishing line, bowler and leather flask could be closed and used for crossing rivers.
During campaigns some riders (provision service) accompanied small herds of horses exempted from military service as a source of food. It was a sort of alive refrigerators moving with the nomad’s army.
These steppe-dwellers were successful against infantry. They could disappear like an illusion but they could also cover the horizon by their hordes. Their fighting abilities were not so outstanding only in forests and highlands. Let’s take the Empire of Genghis Khan and his heirs for illustrative purposes to understand how steppe states function. It was necessary for Genghis Khan to hold together highly mobile tribes for the united army and to establish unified administration in order to create the empire and rule it. Old tribal relations were forgotten for the sake of a new political system in which the power was exercised from the center and in which everybody knew his place. The clans were divided into three-level groups and established on decimal principle of tens, hundreds and thousands. No clan was allowed to emigrate without permission. Trophies were the main goal of conquests. Genghis Khan had educated scribes who used the Uyghur alphabet for creation of the Mongolian script to record decrees and to raise taxes. Communication in the state was maintained by Khan’s ten thousand private guardians. The core of mounted courier service or so-called “arrow riders” were recruited from these men. Each courier could ride up to 160 km a day changing horses every 40 km. Thus any Khan’s decree could cover the distance between Hungary and Beijing during two months.
Genghis Khan has solved the problems of ancient Mongolian tribal hostility using traditional law provisions and supplementing them with new regulations. Genghis Khan decided: “Everybody fleeing the battlefield is punishable by death except of the general retreat”. Theft was punished by death. Fornicators of both sexes were condemned to death. Blasphemy in any religion and temple desecration were also punished by death. The city of Sarai is shown in “The Horde” to be purely Tatar city but in fact is was a huge international city, a kind of medieval megalopolis.
For example, Russian princes and their retinue coming to Sarai to get jarlig, Russian merchants and numerous Russian craftsmen constituted a large colony in this city. Therefore a special Sarai orthodox eparchy was established as far back as 1261. There was also and an orthodox church in Sarai. During the reign of Berke Khan (1209-66) who succeeded Batu Khan Islam was proclaimed the state religion and this fact complicated positions of the Horde’s Orthodox population dramatically.
An Arab explorer of the XIV century Ibn Battuta noted: “The city of Sarai-Berke is [one] of the most beautiful cities and it reached its extreme size on plain ground, it’s crowded with people, full of markets and avenues. One day we rode with one of the city’s elders having a good mind to come the city round and to find out its square. We lived in one end of the city and having left it in the morning we reached the opposite one only after noon…and there was nothing but a continuous line of houses on our way with neither empty places nor gardens. It has thirteen Friday mosques and one of them is Shafi’i mosque. Furthermore, there’s also an enormous number of other mosques. The city is full of different nationalities: the Mongols who are native inhabitants of the land and its real rulers, some of them are Muslims; the Aces who are Muslims; the Kipchaks, Circassians, Russians and Byzantines who are Christians. Every nationality lives separately in its district; there’re and their markets. Merchants and strangers from both parts of Iraq, Egypt Syria and other regions live in a [special] district with the wall surrounding their property” (It resembles modern Moscow, isn’t it?)
Alternatively, if all the Tatars were stupid barbarians and all the Russians were so civilized and spiritual, then why is every important Russian term in such fields as commerce, money transactions, military art, administration, urban development and even culture and language of Turkic origin? It means that the Russians had no idea about many basic things before the Turks’ arrival. These things and terms came to them with the Turks.
For example, many of these terms exist in the sphere of money transactions: “denga” (Tatar: “tenke” – a coin), “altyn” (Tatar: “gold”), “summa” (Tatar: “sum” – the name of a currency unit), “kazna” or treasury (Tatar: “hazine” – a warehouse). There are also terms which exist in the sphere of commerce: “bazar” (or “market” in Russian), “birzha” or bourse (Tatar: “alysh-biresh” – to trade or to exchange), “towar” or product (Tatar: “mal-tuar” – cattle), “tovarishch” or comrade (Tatar: “tuar ishe” or a partner with the goods), “barish” or profit (Tatar: “barish” – profit).
The same situation is in military art and administration: “polk” or regiment (Tatar: “bulik” – division, squad), “hurrah” (Tatar: “bypass!” and the second meaning of this word is “hit!”), “T’ma” (Tatar: “tumen” or unit of ten thousand warriors), “cossack” (Tatar: “kachak” or a landlord’s fugitive), “karaul” or escort (Tatar: “karau” – to look at smth), “loshad'” or horse (Tatar: “alasha at” – an ambler), “kon'” or horse (Tatar: “kuyn” – a winged horse symbolizing the sun), “sablya” or saber (Turkic: “saplama” – a pivot, bayonet), “mech'” or sword (from Turkic “bichyu” – to cut or “pichak” – a knife), “schtit” or shield (Tatar: “chiten” – a fence or a hedge). One can also mention military terms “uhlan”, “yesaul”, “ataka” or attack (from Turkic “to throw”), “ataman” (from Tatar “atamin”), “boyarin” (Turkic: “buyuran” – someone who orders).
The next terms are from the sphere of urban planning: “kirpich” (Turkic: “kir” – mud, soil, clay or “kir pishu” – heating, clay roasting), “kreml” (Turkic: “kiram” – a fired brick of red color), from here derives the word “kiramli” – a building made of these bricks, “horomi” (Turkic: “kurum” – a building), “maidan” (Tatar: “maidan” – a square), “konyok” or a roof element (Tatar: “kyun” – the sun).
Spheres of culture and language also need to be mentioned. Russian surname endings “-ov, -ev, – in” and Russian city names with endings “-ov, -ev” are of Turkic origin. Words with “-ov, -ev” (in modern Tatar “oi”) have two meanings in Turkic languages: 1) home, settlement and 2) family, clan. For example, the word “kiy ev” means “frontier settlement” in Turkic. Today it’s the city of Kiev. Actually it was located on the western border of the Khazar State. The name of settlement Azov means “Az + ov” or “the settlement where clan Az lived”.
“Ivan ov” means “Ivan’s family i.e. Ivanov”, it’s the way how Russian surnames emerged. For example, surname “Dubin” derived from clan called “Dub” and “in” is a Turkic possessive affix i.e. a man belonging to “Dub” clan.
It’s also possible to add such words as “pisat'” or to write (Tatar: “bizyu” – to pattern), “kniga” or a book (Turkic: “kunnik” – the product from leather lists used for writing signs and letters), “sud” or a courthouse (Turkic: “syuz” – a word; words and phrases with similar pronunciation are “sudit’ da ryadit'” or to judge and to disguise, “sudachit'” or to gossip and “sud’ya” or a judge, “sudar'” or minister, “gosudar'” or sovereign and “gosudarstvo” or state); “sut'”, “suschtnost'” or essence (it seems that originally a word or words formulating the basis of a phenomenon existed in the language), it’s evidenced by Russian expression “U nego net ni suti ni ryadni” or, in other words, someone speaks inaudibly and he’s not able to articulate something important. Purely Slavic root for these terms is “ryadit’, rech’ or izrekat'”. The word “slovo” or a word is derived from Turkic “syuyleu, suylev” or to talk.
The word “bog” or “the God” derives from Turkic word “buga, boga” defining a Solar Diety worshipped by the proto-Turks. The word “altar'” means a red cross in Turkic or the Sun’s cross and it’s pronounced “al tere”.
Words “stakan” or a glass and “istukan” or an idol have Turkuc meaning “echti kan” or “I’ve drunk the blood”: ancient Turks-pagans fixed a wood or stone pillar in a forest and put a container with blood as a kind of sacrifice on it. This pillar was later called “istukan” and a container with blood put on it was called “stakan”.
Now let us examine the way of culture evolution paved by so-called “barbarians” who has conquered the Kievan Rus.
Recent discoveries of Turkic runes found in Kazakhstan date back to the 8th century BC.
Mahmud al-Kashgari was an 11th century Turkic scholar and lexicographer who lived in the Kara-Khanid Khanate and wrote Compendium of the languages of the Turks with a lot of literature patterns. Turkic poet and thinker of the 11th century Yusuf Khass Hajib wrote a great poem Kutadgu Bilig (“Wisdom which brings Happiness”).
The era of the Golden Horde was marked by such outstanding writers and thinkers as Kotb, Khwārizmī, Khisam Katib, Saif Sarai, Ahmed Urgenchi, Berke Fakyyh.
I’ll provide just one example to characterize development of Turkic thought of that time. The fact is that the poet in the East was considered a man of omniscience and a philosopher. Above mentioned poet Saif Sarai (1321 – 1396) unexpectedly wrote in his poem Sukhail and Ghuldursun that the girl (the heroine of the poem) rotates around her lover like the Earth around the Sun (Güneş gerdinde yyrgen yir tik).
We shouldn’t forget that it was the 14th century. The same scientific facts were discovered in Europe only in 200 years. Giordano Bruno’s life was the forfeit for this discovery.
High material and spiritual standards reached by the Kazan Khanate’s Turks as the Golden Horde’s successors of the 16th century can be proved by the following lines from the poem Tukhfai Merdan (“Men’s gift”) written by
Muhammadjar in 1540:
“It’s astonishing what sort of people lives in the city (Kazan),
They’re poets. The young and the old are all the poets!”
Indeed, a poor land is not interested in poetry. Therefore, standard of living was very high. Were there any poets in Ivan the Terrible’s Russia? I can’t remember them.
The point is that since the XI century the main genres of Kievan Rus’ literature were foreign religious literature translated from Greek and the annals. Literature in the modern sense of this word emerges very late. For example, the author’s poetry emerges only in the first half of the XVIII century. Only at this time we can find such poets as Theophan Prokopovich, Vasily Trediakovsky and Antiochus Kantemir.
The first Russian oral poetry was bound up with national folklore and skomorokhs’ songs suppressed by the church as paginism’s phenomena and its actions influenced the late emergence of the author’s poetry. It seems that the first authors emerged when Peter I brought religious fanatics to heel.
The Horde’s humane treatment of conquered Rus’ is astonishing. This humanitas becomes apparent when it’s compared to current Moscow’s attitude to the Republic of Tatarstan. For example, the Horde’s tax imposed on Rus’ amounted to just 10% of all income. The Tatars didn’t colonize Russian lands and used to live in steppes. They didn’t intervene into cultural, spiritual and religious life of Rus’. The church was exempted from taxes and any affront to the church was punishable by death. The Horde promoted the Rus’ unification under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Moscow objectively facilitating the formation of the Russian nation which was becoming more and more separated from the Ukrainians and the Belarusians at that time.
Now let’s have a look at Moscow’s policy in respect of the conquered nations in case of the Kazan Tatars. The Russians have colonized tatar lands. The current tax imposed by Moscow on Tatarstan amounts to approximately 85% of all income. From siege of Kazan till the reign of Catherine the Great mosques were regularly destroyed and the population was baptized by force. Even modern so-called “democratic” Russia regulates our internal cultural, linguistic and educational life.
What does it exactly mean? It means that it’s still impossible in Putin’s Russia to create a national (non-Russian) education system, i.e. an integral part of the national cultural autonomy, despite Article 6 of the Federal Law on Education which technically acknowledges a right of studying in native languages.
Compulsory russification of indigenous non-Russian peoples is legally provided by the Law on the Languages of Peoples of the Russian Federation which obliges all the nationalities to use alphabets based on the Cyrillic script, by infamous Act 309 which has destroyed the regional element of education system and by the Decision of the Cassation Board of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in the Kamalova case according to which the Unified State Exam is possible only in Russian.
In my opinion, there are enough examples in this article which can help a thinking reader to understand where real barbarism should be found and not to jump at the bait of
shoddy film “The Horde”. Such filmmakers being ignorant of history themselves multiply by their fake films millions of similar illiterates. No wonder that even the Golden Horde history consultant (ethnically Russian) had to leave this project during filming opposing the distortion of history by film writer and film director.
I think this article will help to destroy conventional inert and destructive stereotypes disseminated by such films.
Author: Rafael Muhametdinov
Source: “Tatar Zamany”